Here again, gone tomorrow. Then, the little comeback- of sorts- before retreating into that pitch dark corner, once again. When will they be seen again, back in their glory and form- none know. When will they next fall like ninepins, all know.
A little bit here. A little bit there. But never truly where inspiring and mind-boggling cricket happens; that’s the plight of the West Indies, currently visiting Sri Lanka.
Although visiting much like a student who simply appears in the classroom for the sake of attendance but never really sits through an entire session, long enough to make it to the end. Here for a sec and then gone again.
Just like it was said at the beginning. How else would you describe that team, which on the same pitch is struggling to hold it through for one full day where its adversary spent nearly two days batting?
At 113-6, the West Indies seem nearer to the end of the Test when in reality, Day 3 is yet to unfold. Yet to unfurl its own tale. Brathwaite and Blackwood, the captain and vice-captain, respectively contributing 61 of those sorry-looking 113 runs.
Hope and Chase making 12 on the whole whilst Bonner, the exciting new find making a solitary run. Right here. Gone next second. Thank god for those extras, the Caribbean fan would’ve wondered, that it helped the dainty scorecard with 15 freebie runs.
In truth, what the West Indies need aren’t runs; what the Caribbean men, known particularly for their wham-bam and dashing ways of batting, need is patience.
That alone will do the rest of the stuff. The men who hold the fort at the moment seem just as capable of doing that as did Dravid and Laxman back in the mega Indian summer of 2001-02.
But then, they were Dravid and Laxman. Men who didn’t like to give in to pressure. Men who’d do anything possible in their might and right to turn the tables on those who dared to challenge India’s authority.
The very men who cricketers from the West Indies may not necessarily get inspired by. Or May just do not like to. You ask why?
Heck, what do you expect from a bunch of national cricketers who couldn’t get inspired by a 582-ball-400 inning knock, one that birthed the first and thus far, the only quadruple century of the game itself?
Legend has it that prior to hitting his famous 400, Lara’s highest score in the series was 36.
Truth is the no West Indian batsman in a team made up of strikingly talented cricketers- Hope, Chase, Blackwood, Bonner- crossed 30. Barring the captain Brathwaite, of course.
That was Brian Lara and his incredible desire to hunt back those who had haunted him. This is an entire team made up of eleven who are getting hunted.
In some ways, greatness in the game is birthed out of desperation. The old saying we’ve been told, time and over again, still goes something like this- if you want something desperately, the entire universe aligns forces to lead you to it.
But the question that stares a very clueless looking West Indies team is- do they even few desperate in their want to win? In fact, do they even want to win? Or is escaping with a lucky draw their moral consolation. Their victory. The meaning of triumph.
You only settle for the next best when in the pursuit of the very best, you’ve given it absolutely everything and yet, realise that it won’t do. Won’t suffice. But the West Indies- do they want to do the best.
If five in seven or ten batsmen fall to spin, then it could really mean that there’s something special happening from the side of the ball. But if an entire team gets dismissed by spinners it suggests something else. Something serious. Unacceptable. Miserable even. Adjectives galore.
That each and every West Indian batsman fell to spin, not medium pace, clearly shows that gaping void the visitors are yet to fill. Worst yet, it shows their abject surrender in facing that very skill of the game that some of their predecessors were known to have excelled at.
Think Shiv Chanderpaul. Remember Hooper and Kalicharan. Don’t forget Roy Fredericks. Dare not discount Brian Charles Lara.
And then you have this nerving contemporary reality where the little that can be put on the table is the most one could say about a side that doesn’t really have that many positives. At least, not in the batting department.
Save you wish to remember February’s Kyle Mayers magic. Forget not that the domineering Test double century came in the subcontinent. Forget not that Mayers excelled against both pace and spin.
The dancing down the track to spinners. The rocking back to the back foot to cream the cover and point boundary. The 210 weren’t just birthed as unbeatable runs; they were the result of persisting despite adversity.
If for anything, Mayers must believe when he comes out to bat, which’ll be Day 3- it’ll be nothing less than a hardcore very “save the game” reality. Ditto for Holder, who before anyone forgets, has a solid Test double ten.
They must join forces and begin working on a simple strategy. And it’s that they must make small goals to fulfil. Surviving the first bowling change. Making it through the first-morning session. Both men intact. Both raring to go.
Not for personal milestones; but to rally around the West Indies. There’s still a lot of Cricket that’s left to be played in this Test match. There’s so much to be done and yearn for.